Hot off the press: Another withering attack on animal agriculture and the impact modern meat production has on our economy and our lifestyles. Its assault may be accurate, but is it fair?
One is a long list of horror stories about animal agriculture was recently published, this tome titled, “The Meat Racket.” It’s written by an investigative journalist named Christopher Leonard, and you don’t need me to provide a synopsis of the expose he spends nearly 400 pages delivering.
He profiles Tyson Foods, in particular, as a pioneer in the reinvention of poultry production over the last 40 years, noting that the efficiencies generated by the company’s business model — the implementation of genetics, feeding and management systems — provided both affordability and availability of animal foods unprecedented in the American experience.
I give Leonard credit for that. Most muckrakers skip over the part of their historical overview that details why whichever mega-firm they’re bashing managed to dominate their competitors.
Because make no mistake: Any giant corporation — and that includes the current behemoths like Apple, Google and Facebook — didn’t start out dominating anything. In almost all cases, they came up with a better mousetrap and then leveraged the advantages and/or benefits their products and their operational model provided into market dominance. A process that typically takes decades of hard work and risk-taking.
That’s why the evil organization eventually becomes so big (and “bad!”) that someone gets to write a book demonizing the fallout that inevitably occurs when any market sector is controlled by a couple behemoths.
In The Meat Racket, Leonard goes full Upton Sinclair in comparing the current structure of meatpacking and poultry processing with the “Meat Trust” that ruled the industry a century ago. As a straight-up business analysis, there are indeed parallels, but it’s also about the easiest book to write in 21st century America when you start with a premise of: “Look — Big, Bad Business has taken over (fill in of name of business sector).”
And there are plenty of examples of exactly such a development: Energy, telecom, banking, media, entertainment. The list of business sectors dominated by a handful of mega-corporations is lengthy. How about health care? Can anyone plausibly argue that the power of the pharmaceutical giants or the health insurance oligarchy is beneficial — or even benign — for consumers?